Finally we are seeing the emergence of value based charging models. The launch of shared data plans signal the beginning and there will be others, such as Happy Hour deals, otherwise known as time shifting, which are being offered by 11 percent of operators in a twice yearly report from Allot Communications. Happy hour deals also signal another development – that operators are thinking about customers and networks at the same time, and producing win-win plans. Allot’s report tells us that 46 percent of operators are offering some form of value based pricing.
The will is there and this should be viewed as good news. It is good news. The bad news is that most operators are not ready to offer the next level of intuitive, empathetic plans. They do not have the tools. This will drive operators to spend $14 billion on convergent charging systems over the next five years, according to research house Infonetics. Worse (or better if you are a vendor) Openet and Telecoms.com have discovered that almost 90 percent of operators do not have real time capabilities in their post paid charging systems. This is necessary for sophisticated models such as Happy Hour and so called ‘turbo’ plans, such as the one in the works from Verizon Wireless.
Not only do this mean that initial LTE pricing models are basic but are likely to remain so. What this means is that will not be able to form win-win ‘partnerships’ with their customers, so will remain unable to manage the network capacity and deliver value to their customers at the same time.
Investing in real time for post paid systems is a small price to pay and in many cases will not mean completely replacing current systems.